Yesterday afternoon, I took the dogs down to my Grandpa’s wood lot, so that I could gather blackberries. It’s the end of the season, and the bushes are pretty bare. Many of the berries are hard, dry and seedy, or show signs of having been nibbled on. I walked a mile to gather a meager half cup of fruit where a month ago I could have filled my bucket standing in one place. That’s okay; I don’t mind working for the last fresh berries of the year.
A month ago, yesterday’s weather would have been frowned on, too. It was damp and cool; the sun didn’t show itself until mid-afternoon, and even then it was hazy. Not good, compared to the beautiful warm days of summer. Compared to the weather that’s coming in the next few months, it was a treasure of a day.
I am making an effort to be more appreciative.
It’s easy to get caught up in the past. Not only this summer, now gone, but other summers and other years. The older I get, the more “past” there is to dwell on. I tend to be sentimental, leaning toward maudlin. Memories and cherished moments of when I was young…or of when my daughters were babies…or when my grandchildren were babies…can fill whole days, if I let them. A simple act of pulling out an old address book or decorating for an upcoming holiday can send me into a tailspin of reminiscences. Sadly, loved ones that have died seem to occupy my thoughts more now than when they were alive. We engage in frequent conversations, in my mind.
The future is always looming, too, in my mind and on my schedule. I run through what I have to do in the next few minutes and in the next hour. I have lists of what I want to accomplish in this day, this week, this month…this life. There are places to go and books to read, subjects to write about, things to make and things to do. The plans are never-ending. If I get a week’s vacation…when I get caught up on this project…if I win a million dollars…one thing always leads to another.
I could be out on a sunny day for a nice walk with my big dog, beauty all around me, and my thoughts will be on what I need to do as soon as I get home…or on something that happened twenty-five years ago. I’m working on it. I have started a [tiny] meditation practice. I give myself five minutes, first thing in the morning. No plans, no memories, just be present. When a thought arises, I just send it on its way. It’s amazing how long five minutes can be! If I could live more in the moment, would all time seem to expand in that way?
I don’t know. I know that yesterday, in the chill fall air, gathering blackberries in the woods while the dogs rolled in the grass, that present moment was all that I wanted.